Tuesday, October 7, 2014


Rivals Michelangelo and Pietro are star students under the tutelage of Bertoldo di Giovanni and compete against one another to be the best artist of their time. On the heels of success, the Black Death disease killing at least 45 percent  and as much as 75 percent in three years time from Palermo to Venice, sixty-three thousand people died within two months as recorded in the The Chronicon Estense. Florence estimated ninety-six thousand deaths between March and October 1348 and Francisco Traini’s painting in the Campozanto in Pisa depicts this scene of death. The Ugly Renaissance shares the meaning of paintings created during the Renaissance and how the scenes in those paintings depict events and demeanor of the people who lived during that time.

Italians believed Fifteenth Century Ethiopians were authentic descendants of Ham, Noah’s son, and therefore considered members of the Christian family yet were eventually placed into slavery. The novel continues its journey to discuss Michelangelo and his love, lust, and craving for a specific man who is not interested in his gestures or gifts.

The Ugly Renaissance as stated by the author, "And by the end of the journey, the Renaissance will not just appear to have been populated by angels and demons; it will never seem the same again" did live up to its statement. It seemed to discuss more issues surrounding artists and their social status in the Renaissance period.

Alexander Lee explains in the introduction the novel’s method of creating the theme thus the name ‘The Ugly Renaissance’ in examining ‘the hidden story behind the paintings’ of Italy. It would have great to see some of the paintings discussed in the book to make the read more interesting. This novel is recommended to readers of history, art, and fiction mixed with non-fiction on historical paintings by great artists of the Renaissance.

I received this book free from Doubleday Books through the Net Galley reviewer program in exchange for an honest opinion 

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